Escape or no escape, if you are forgetful you will miss godliness anywhere you are, in the marketplace or in the monastery. If you are not forgetful, if you are mindful, alert aware, then godliness is everywhere – as much here as much as anywhere else, as much now as much as then. There is no question of going anywhere. One can simply relax here – fall into a kind of watchful silence. And then life is simple and uncluttered. Yes, that is what simplicity is – not a cultivated character, but a life which is uncluttered by the nonessential, by the unimportant, by the mundane, by the trivial.
And again let me repeat that the Sufi does not believe in any fairy tales, so there is no question of being motivated. He does not believe in tomorrows. All that he knows of time is now, all that he knows of space is here.
These sounds of the birds are divine for him. There is no other God separate from his existence. The dancer is in the dance, so he has no idea of a personal God sitting somewhere above the clouds. His God is an impersonal presence.
Feel it now, this very moment. The presence is here, as it is everywhere else. All that is needed is you falling in a kind of attunement, you to falling in a kind of at-one-ment. Then the crowing of the crows and the cuckoo calling from far away…and all is silent. And in that silence you start becoming aware of the impersonal presence that surrounds you.
A young bank clerk stole five thousand pounds from the bank and was unable to reimburse it when caught. In despair he went up to the cliff with the intention of committing suicide.
As he was about to jump he was tapped on his left shoulder, and upon turning around he spied an especially ugly lady who claimed to be his fairy godmother and granted him three wishes.
His first wish was to replace the five thousand pounds, which was granted. His second wish was to be the owner of a large mansion, and his third, the owner of a Rolls Royce. All these were granted to him by his fairy godmother.
Feeling very pleased with himself, he turned back to make his way home to get the five thousand pounds, the mansion and the Rolls Royce. His fairy godmother stopped him and requested that he too grant her a single wish. He was only too happy to oblige, whereupon she asked him to make love to her.
He was repelled by her, but obliged because of the wishes she had granted him. He made love to her in a great hurry and pulled his trousers up and was about to leave when she stopped him yet again.
This time she asked, “How old are you, young man?”
His reply was, “I am thirty-five years of age. But why do you ask?”
She said, “You still believe in fairy godmothers?”
The person who believes in a personal God is still immature. There is nothing like that. That personal God is nothing but your idea of the father, projected and magnified. You are childish. When you pray, if you think you are praying to a personal God, you are simply being stupid. There is nobody listening to your prayer. And yet godliness is. But godliness is not a person, godliness is an impersonal presence.